On March 14th, two days after falling to LigaMX club, Tigres, in their first-ever CONCACAF Champions League match, New York City FC and Major League Soccer announced they would suspend the 2020 season due to concerns about COVID-19. In an email sent to City Members, Matt Goodman, NYCFC’s new COO told supporters that their upcoming monthly payment would also be suspended for the upcoming month. In the month that followed, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread throughout New York, affecting New York City especially hard. Governor Cuomo enacted widespread social distancing rules limiting the number of people allowed to congregate together. Most non-essential workers are now working from home and many people have lost their jobs. According to the New York Times, unemployment is hovering above 14% nationwide. Many New Yorkers struggle daily to stay healthy and safe, get groceries, and pay bills like rent or mortgages.
With all this in mind, NYCFC announced yesterday that they will resume collecting monthly installments for season ticket holders. In a new letter sent to City Members, Goodman wrote, “We have been in close contact with our partners at MLS and want to be clear that the game plan is to play a full 2020 season. Therefore, we plan to run the April 15th payments as scheduled.” Supporters do have the option of deferring their April 15th payment and spreading it out over the remaining payments, but it’s unclear according to the letter whether or not City Members can defer any payments after April 15th. Furthermore, NYCFC is giving season ticket holders less than 48 hours to decide if they want to defer or pay.
NYCFC CEO Brad Sims and MLS Commissioner Don Garber continue to stress the desire to play a full 34 match season in 2020 with the MLS playoffs stretching into late December. What is clear is that the league depends on gate receipts to stay afloat financially. What isn’t clear to fans is how MLS plans to play a full season when health experts are saying a vaccine for COVID-19 is 12 to 18 months away. A Seton Hall University poll conducted over the last week found that a whopping 72% of sports fans will not attend sporting events until a vaccine is readily available. So how will MLS restart its 25th season?
An idea floated by Garber during an interview with ESPN yesterday suggests the idea of an alternative format for the 2020 season. In the interview, Garber explains that the season could be conducted in some sort of tournament format at neutral locations, with a goal of playing as many matches as possible. Garber also added that if and when play resumes, matches will be played behind closed doors. It’s speculative, but it seems unlikely we’ll see NYCFC matches at Yankee Stadium this season. Therefore, why should NYCFC fans pay for matches that may not even happen?
After reaching out to NYCFC yesterday we are happy to report that the club will provide a third option for City Members. According to an email The NYCFC Nation received this morning from Matt Goodman (We’re changing course: City Member Deferral Option), season ticket holders can connect directly with their account representative to discuss any individual needs and / or concerns. The club is willing to work with members to find a solution that will work for both the individual and club. So, after yet another stumble, NYCFC has reconsidered and will help fans that may be struggling financially during these difficult times. After years of missteps, perhaps NYCFC is finally learning from their mistakes and are trying right their wrongs.